“My Boyfriend’s Family Invites His Ex-Wife to Events, But Not Me”

I am 48-year-old woman, divorced 15 years ago and mother of 28-year-old son and 26-year-old daughter. Two and a half years ago my old school mate started talking to me on Facebook. He was married then, but he told me that for 17 years he had been unhappy in his marriage to a Russian girl, with whom he has two sons, now 10 and 12.

From the first day we talked, we never stopped. After a month we started also going out every night. After two months he left his house and went to his parents’ place for three months, and then he came to my house and we have lived together for the last two years.

We have his sons almost every afternoon and night and also every weekend. I love his children and am especially close with the 10-year-old. My boyfriend’s parents also met my parents and my children, and we went to their house for dinner and they came to our house.

My problem is that, although everything seems OK and although I have met his ex and I also helped her with her work and I take care of her children, whenever there is a family event, my boyfriend’s family invites her with the children and not me. My partner understands this because he feels she is alone in a foreign country and that she has no family here. I told him I don’t mind for her to come as long as I’m invited, too. He is very kind and he prefers to stay home as well so as to not hurt my feelings, but his family does not care about my feelings. They believe I’m of strong character and they only care about not hurting her. The children always ask me if I’m going, and I have to find excuses as to why I’m not going so they don’t think something is wrong.

Do you think that I should stop going to the other events they invite me to and keep my distance from them? When there’s a family event I’m not invited to, should I tell my partner to go and I go somewhere else with my friends or my family and just ignore it? I did not expect this from them as I helped everyone to go through this separation as smoothly as possible. — Second to His Ex in the Eye’s of His Family

I’m pretty shocked that you dated a married man (months before he actually separated from his longtime wife), moved in with him right away (has he even filed for divorce yet?) and seem surprised that you haven’t been welcomed with wide-open arms. Honestly, that you’ve been treated as well as you have, by the wife, the children, and the family, is something you shouldn’t take for granted considering they’d be completely justified in blaming you for the dissolution of the marriage. You dated a man who still lived with his wife, going out with him every night until he left his wife and family two months later. Five months after you started your affair with him you started living together. And you’re seriously surprised that his family feels some sympathy for his wife/the mother of his children?!

The way I see it, you’re incredibly lucky. It sounds like the kids don’t hate you for breaking up their parents’ marriage and taking their father from the family home. (Even if that isn’t a fair accusation, it would be totally understandable that a 10- and 12-year-old would see it that way). It sounds as though you even have a cordial relationship with the wife, who certainly has reason to dislike and not trust you. And his family, while not including you in big events, seem to be making an attempt to get to know you and are open to including you in smaller occasions. If I were you, considering the dynamics at play and how long your boyfriend’s marriage was in relation to the length of time you’ve been around (and whatever role you are perceived to have played in the ending of the marriage), I wouldn’t rock the boat. I’d be incredibly grateful for the graciousness that had already been extended to me and would continue building relationships with the people in my boyfriend’s life who mean so much to him, even if the terms weren’t entirely mine. I’d go to the smaller invitations extended to me and sit out the larger family events I wasn’t included in until everyone felt more comfortable with my presence.

I’d say give it another six months and, if you’re still feeling boxed out of large family events and like the ex/wife is a bigger priority, then talk to your boyfriend about discussing with his parents how important it is that you be included with him on all invitations. But for now, don’t ask him to skip the events he’s invited to and you aren’t. That will only serve to alienate you further from the family you hope will begin embracing you. Continue being of “strong character” and rely on your support system — your own family and friends — as everyone keeps adjusting to you as a new member of the extended family.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. Avatar photo juliecatharine says:

    Lol yeah she kind of glossed over the dating/moving in with a married man thing. WWS, be grateful that you have been accepted. There are very few cheaters out there who will cop to having a happy marriage. Your guy may have been in an unhappy situation but he clearly wasted no time moving on and out. Considering he has two young kids who were 8 and 10 when this went down you both seem to have been treated with amazing consideration.

  2. Is he even divorced yet? Considering that you two broke-up a family, you are lucky that they treat you as well as they do. I feel sorry for his former? wife. She is the mother of his still young children, and she has a history with the family that you don’t. Back off or they may turn on you.

    1. To be fair, she alone didn’t break up his marriage. She played a part, but ultimately, he broke up his marriage and left his children.

      1. She knowingly pursued a married man. They are equally responsible

      2. Ladyinpurplenotred says:

        No they aren’t. She wasn’t part of the marriage. His marriage isn’t her responsibility. Yes, she shouldn’t have pursued a married man, but his marriage=his responsibility.

      3. bittergaymark says:

        I disagree. It takes two to tango. And you CAN have an affair with somebody and NOT wreck their marriage… Trust me. I know.

      4. Maybe not equally but she certainly isn’t blameless.

      5. That’s why I said she played a part, meaning, she is partly to blame. I just have a problem with people pinning it entirely on the “other woman, or man” and I think it takes most of blame away from the party who is truly at fault, the cheating spouse. If it wasn’t this woman, I promise it would have been a different one.

      6. dinoceros says:

        I mentioned this in my comment below, but I see it as capitalizing on someone else’s pain and betrayal, which I believe is morally wrong. So, you may not be doing this particular bad thing (i.e. breaking up the marriage), but you’re doing another bad thing in connection with it.

  3. LisforLeslie says:

    We don’t know whether they divorced, have a separation agreement or anything. If I were them, I’d be as cautious as possible to keep that woman close and give her whatever support she needed so that my grandkids remained in my life.
    She could go back home to Russia (unlikely) but could easily meet someone else and move to be with that person with the kids in tow. It wouldn’t be fair to the father, but neither is leaving your wife to live with another woman. I’d be doing my damnest to provide a support network so that she felt cared for and, to a degree, felt an obligation to stick around.

  4. I don’t think “strong character” means what she thinks it means.

    1. bittergaymark says:

      Hah! I was so going to post something along those lines…
      I do love how so many people — no matter what they have done or are in the middle of doing — somehow, always insist on playing the victim… “Oh, woe! Woe is me. I swooped in and wrecked a marriage/family — how DARE they not invite ME to family events?”

      1. What is that though? How can you be that blind to your own behaviour? You aren’t even the girlfriend he hooked up with a hot second after leaving his family… You are the damn mistress. Unbelievable.

  5. Oh yeah, he’s “very kind” when he stays home with her and ignores his pre-teen children (both boys that probably need their father). He’s also very kind when he just left them and shacked up with the other woman. And to be fair, when there is a “family event”, she’s not family, she’s the other woman who actively participated, and encouraged the separation. The only reason the 10 year old is closer to her is because he still doesn’t understand what happened. And what’s with the “I take care of her children”, no you homewrecking ignoramus, you are taking care of your cheating man’s children, ex wife didn’t spontaneously get pregnant and birth out two miracle babies. They are his children. If you want to be a part of his life and his family’s, then you CANNOT look at the children as “her” children, they are his as well.

    Also, does it matter that his ex-wife is Russian? Is she implying she’s a mail order bride? Does it matter? If so, she’s been here almost 20 years, and thankfully has a strong in-law family that appears to love her and care for her.

    This whole letter all I hear is “me, me, me, me, me, me.” Just wow.

  6. wobster109 says:

    LW, one question remains unanswered. What do you find attractive about this creep? Someone who shacks up and packs up while married with children! Someone who cheats on his wife. Look at how he treats her: he’d rather cheat than be honest. That’s how he’ll treat you too.

  7. dinoceros says:

    I’d agree with Wendy on everything. It shows what kind people his family is if they invite his ex-wife to events. She’s the mother of their grandchildren and has been their daughter-in-law for a long time. It’s a good thing not to cast family aside simply because your son cheats on her. Obviously, you didn’t create the initial problems in their marriage, but you did capitalize off them. In their story, you are the other woman. And you did choose this situation. Everything in life has tradeoffs. The tradeoff here is that, sure, you got the guy when you wanted him, but you are also disliked. You chose that.

    Also, trying to subtly demean her by referring to her as a “Russian girl,” when I presume she is a woman, not a girl, is not helping.

  8. LW, given the circumstances of how you got together, I would expect that the family would value your BF’s (ex?) wife’s feelings over yours. That may never change, and you need to accept that.

    You should encourage your BF to participate in family events to which you are not invited, and be gracious on those occasions that they choose to include you.

  9. Truelight says:

    “I did not expect this from them as I helped everyone to go through this separation as smoothly as possible.”


    Seriously. You want to pretend to be the saint who helped a miserable man out of his marriage. That’s what you’re going for?

    Because the reality is, you had an affair with a married man who whined to you on Facebook (talk about high school) about how MEEEN his wife was. He has since left his wife and moved in with your sucker self- is he paying any bills? I note that it’s your house- and now you’re upset because his family isn’t embracing you with open arms. News flash, she is their daughter-in-law and the mother of their grandchildren. Even if you marry your scumbag dude, she will forever have that tie to them. They clearly care about her and want her to stay close. If you can’t deal with that- tough. You went after a married man who clearly sees you as low-hanging fruit. Grow up, develop some self-respect and find a better relationship. Remember, the man who marries his mistress creates a job opening.

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